Home > Classic, Horror > Scanners



Time for a classic movie as I haven’t really seen anything new this week. Although I’m hoping to remedy that with Dredd which I have to admit I’m slightly wetting myself to see. But that’s for another day.


So I finally sat through the whole of Scanners (1981); I usually don’t make it past the famous exploding head scene. This is not because the film didn’t capture my imagination. Ever since I saw Akira (1988) back in 1995 I’ve loved the idea of killer Psychics, it’s just that I’ve only ever seen this on TV, and it tends to get shown at stupid o clock. I’m getting old so my vitality starts to waiver after about fifteen minuets leaving me to wake up just as the credits start rolling. So I got myself a DVD copy instead.

Scanners is from those halcyon days when Cronenberg was at the height of his powers, when he was obsessed with disease, deformity, mans relation to machinery and the power of the mind. To distil it’s story to it’s most basic form Scanners is just a thriller. It’s about a secret underground terrorist group of psychics led by a man called Darryl Revok and a man called Cameron Vale who is sent to hunt them down, at the behest of a large American multi-national.

But it’s the content that makes this a classic Cronenberg film. All the classic Cronenbergisms are there; medical experiments, mixing the mind with machinery, the evolution of the human race through technology be it for good or bad, and extreme bodily destruction. Forget the exploding head wait until you see the final confrontation between Vale and Revok.

 Talking of Revok, I loved the fact that we get to see a Younger Revok dealing with his powers by drilling a hole in his forehead; to unleash his third eye, it’s a nice touch of body modification. A simpler version of James Woods gun hand or chest Vagina in Videodrome (1983). And watching Scanners I feel like I can see Cronenbergs ideas growing, especially in regards to the relation of man and machine, in this film we see Vale speak to a computer with his mind, Videodrome was about our relation and interaction with TV and then later we had EXistenZ (1999) which was a similar tale but based around video games.

I concentrate on these elements because I do feel that we don’t really get to know the characters overly well, this film feels like the introduction to something. The start of a larger Franchise (I know there are sequels but Cronenberg didn’t have any input so I’ll ignore them) but that’s ok because too much exposition would have ruined the fast pace of the film. It really does move along quite nicely and never lags. We go from one spectacle to another, probably making this one of Cronenbergs most mainstream films, especially as he has left off the sex and analogies of sexually transmitted diseases in this film.


If you want to watch Cronenberg at his more risqué then give Videodrome or my personal favourite of his Shivers a go. But in all honesty if you’re looking for a good fantasy thriller, you can’t go wrong with Scanners. Also it’s a must for gorehounds and further proof that you can’t beat physical effects.


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